Leadership behaviours and health-related early exit from employment: a prospective cohort study of 55 364 employees

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BACKGROUND: Absence of certain leadership behaviours, such as lack of feedback, recognition and involvement in employee development, has been associated with long-term sickness absence. We tested the hypothesis that absence of eight specific behaviours predicts health-related early exit from employment, and investigated differential effects in subgroups to guide future preventive initiatives.

METHODS: Using Cox-proportional hazard modelling, we examined the prospective association between absence of leadership behaviours and health-related early exit from employment in a sample of 55 364 employees during 4.3 years follow-up. Leadership behaviours were measured by employee ratings in national surveys from 2012 to 2016. Exit from employment included disability pension and related measures of health-related early exit, retrieved from a national registry.

RESULTS: We identified 510 cases of health-related early exit from employment during follow-up. A high level of absence of leadership behaviours, was associated with an increased risk of exit from employment (hazard ratio: 1.57, 95% CI: 1.31; 1.89). Subgroup analyses showed that the association between absence of leadership behaviours and exit from employment was similar for women and men and across age groups. The association was stronger for employees with high level of education than for employees with medium/low education, and the association was not observed among employees with a prevalent depressive disorder.

CONCLUSIONS: Absence of the eight leadership behaviours is a risk factor for health-related early exit from employment in the Danish workforce. More studies are needed to confirm the results.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)709–715
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.

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